Missed Potters Bar crash warnings revealed

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The Independent Online

Two passengers tried to raise concerns the night before a passenger train was derailed by defective points, an inquest heard today.

Jurors were told two people - one a rail worker - made three separate reports about "rough rides" on the northbound approach to the station at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.

A judge preparing to hear evidence about the crash - on May 10 2002 - said one report had been "forgotten", one misinterpreted and on one occasion a passenger received no response.

And Judge Michael Findlay Baker QC said safety checks had been carried out hours before the crash - but on the southbound line.

Six passengers - Austen Kark, Emma Knights, Jonael Schickler, Alexander Ogunwusi, Chia Hsin Lin and Chia Chin Wu - and pedestrian Agnes Quinlivan died and more than 70 people were hurt in the crash.

The inquest, which began today in Letchworth, Hertfordshire, is expected to last for more than two months.

Judge Baker said passenger Terence Moore - a rail worker - became concerned about "movement" as a train crossed points on the approach to Potters Bar at around 9pm the night before the crash.

Mr Moore - a station announcer travelling north from King's Cross to Stevenage, Hertfordshire - reported his concerns to a member of staff at the ticket office when he arrived at Stevenage.

The judge said the member of staff, named in court as Derek Jackson, had been "busy" and had not logged the report.

"Mr Jackson was busy. He didn't treat the matter as urgent," said the judge. "He failed to log the report. He forgot about the conversation. In short, he did nothing."

The judge said Mr Moore had also reported his concerns to a manager in the King's Cross signal box.

But the manager, named in court as David Castle, had thought that Mr Moore was talking about the southbound track - not the northbound, said the judge.

Safety checks had been carried out on the southbound line and nothing untoward was noticed, jurors were told.

Judge Baker said Peter Prime - a passenger travelling north through Potters Bar at around 8.30pm on May 9 - had also experienced a "rough ride" on the approach to the station.

Mr Prime, who was on the King's Cross to Leeds train, had been "sufficiently alarmed" to speak to a buffet car steward, said the judge. The steward promised to pass the report to a train manager but Mr Prime had no response.

The judge said other passengers had come forward after the crash to report rough rides on the approach to Potters Bar prior to the derailment.